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John Zorn - Spy Vs. Spy: The Music Of Ornette Coleman CD (album) cover


John Zorn



3.35 | 14 ratings

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Anthony H.
Prog Reviewer
4 stars John Zorn: Spy Vs. Spy [1988]

Rating: 7/10

John Zorn is known for genre-busting. If there's one thing that can be used to characterize his immensely diverse body of work, it is his ability to morph various musical genres into his own brand of experimental insanity. I once heard somebody remark, "If it exists, John Zorn has done an avant-garde version of it." After taking the time to familiarize myself with Zorn's monolithic discography, I realize how true this statement is.

Spy Vs. Spy is the first album that fully explores what is arguably Zorn's most identifiable genre mash-up: jazzcore. Free-jazz and grindcore share almost no musical similarities, with one important exception: both genres are centered upon extreme dissonance and atonality. Zorn has combined these two musical styles to create a new level of harsh musical experimentalism. On this album, Zorn and company have taken the compositions of avant-jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman and grafted them into an entirely different mold. These pieces are played at an ear-splittingly fast tempo, with blasting drums and pulsating bass backing up the dual saxophones. This creates a sonic assault of insane blaring based around a careful melodic framework.

While Spy Vs. Spy doesn't fully demonstrate the possibilities of jazzcore, it does show the power of Zorn's creative musical thinking. This adaptation of the free-jazz style has had enormous influence on experimental music, and albums like this show why. Spy Vs. Spy is not a masterpiece; I have to be in a specific musical mood to enjoy it. However, this is an excellent avant-garde jazz album that I would heartily recommend to any fan of the genre.

Anthony H. | 4/5 |


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